The Writer in the Secret Annex

Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife by Francine Prose

While in junior high, I read The Diary of a Young Girl about 4 times. But somehow, when the “Definitive Edition” was released about 15 years ago, I just didn’t feel like reading it. But now I’ve checked it out from the library, and Francine Prose’s book is the reason.

Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife is a mighty fine book. The subtitle identifies the main sections of the book, and the two I enjoyed most were “The Life” and “The Book.” The section on “The Afterlife,” with its accounts of all the squabbling over who “owned” the story, dragged a bit. And actually made me a little sad.

Prose brilliantly describes the appeal and the immediacy of Anne Frank’s book: since Anne addressed her diary entries to a pretend friend named “Kitty,” she wrote in the second person, addressing “you.” And we are the “you.” I’d never thought about it, but it’s completely true.
Prose also describes Anne as a skilled writer whose style developed very quickly—and who re-wrote her diary into a form near to that which was published. (Lots of details there about what Otto Frank left in, what he chose from the old/new versions of Anne’s diary, etc. Fascinating.)

So now I need to read The Diary of a Young Girl again. And rather than read the old, falling-apart edition I read until it fell to pieces*, I’ve got the “Definitive Edition” here. So it’ll be a little bit like reading the book for the first time.

While we’re talking about Anne Frank, here are two interesting things:
First, a very short bit of film that is the only known footage of Anne Frank:

And second, the Anne Frank House is creating an “Online Hiding Place,” which is due to launch next year. So it will be possible to “visit” the Secret Annex without traveling all the way to Holland. (Though I still want to go there someday. Someday.)

* one of only two books I own that are held together by rubber bands; the other is the Spanish-English dictionary that I’ve owned since third grade